Today I will continue in Galatians 2 to one of the most misunderstood verses in Galatians – v19. Let’s read it and see what it really says.
v19 – For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to G-d.
Many believe this verse says we no longer have to follow the Law (Torah), Mosaic Law, Law of Moses, whatever you want to call it. First notice Paul states that “I” died to the Law, so that “I” might live to G-d. Was Paul hung on the execution stake? I don’t think so. So what could Paul mean?
We already know Paul wrote we cannot be justified by performing commandments. True Judaism believes this as well. What the Torah tells us or rather shows us is we need a savior. We cannot do it without Him. Yet, we must have Torah for without Torah we do not realize we need someone to save us. The Torah explains that through the Torah we approach G-d through emunah (faith). Yet emunah means faith in action. Through Torah G-d shows if we love him what will we do….commandments (Deut. 30). This is the same thing Yeshua said in John 14:15 – if you love me, you will keep my commandments. On a side note, in Hebrew the word keep means much more. It means to guard the commandments. Yeshua was saying not only keep them, but guard them.
If I may restate what Paul said, he was basically saying this “For through the confirmation of the Torah that justification is not by works AND through the Torah’s testimony of the substitutionary work of Christ, I died to the law.”
Just as Paul shows in Ch. 3 Abraham was saved by grace/faith yet he still followed the commandments (Gen 26).
Remember “through the law” refers to the Torah’s teaching of grace. “Through the law” reminds us that justification is not by works. “Through the law” reminds us that we are accepted before G-d by the blood of a substitute. It simply does not follow that because the Torah confirms that we are justified by faith, that we then do not have to obey it. Nor does it make sense that because the Torah testifies to the work of Christ, we no longer need to obey it. Rather, the opposite makes more sense:
Because the Torah confirms we are justified by faith, I will obey it wholeheartedly as a response to the grace of G-d!
Clearly, Paul cannot be saying that we are free to disobey G-d’s commands, for it simply doesn’t follow from his premise “for through the law.” So what is he saying? We know the context of Galatians two is that justification is not by works of the law. “Justification by works of the law” is a teaching of man, not G-d. Therefore, we can logically conclude that “I died to the law” means “I died to justification by works of the law.” Now consider Galatians 2:19 with this new understanding:
For through the law, I died to (my false belief in and reliance upon) justification by works.
In other words: For through the teachings of the Torah, I died to the belief that my obedience to the Torah can save me.
Do you see it? I hope this makes sense to you. If not please ask questions. Disagree? Why?
Until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is HaShem!